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Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
A Manifesto for Innovation and Change
Startup Europe Leaders' Club/ London
2 September 2013
To add your comment to this speech, see the social version of the speech here
I love it when people call for action and actually try to stand up and make their case. Now is the time for action. For collective action.
Europe isn't Silicon Valley. Perhaps it never will be; perhaps it doesn't need to be. But I do know that there's a lot we can learn from the American attitude: the respect and recognition they afford to entrepreneurs, the huge rewards from being able to take risks and innovate. And also the courage to challenge the established order.
We need to shake up Europe! Too often, we make policies on the basis of what the established players tell us. Startups are too busy developing their business. But it is not because they don't have the time or the resources to engage with policy makers that they do not matter. On the contrary. We need a Voice for the tech startups in Europe. To fight for them. I would hope that established successful entrepreneurs can raise their hands and convince others to do the same. And launch a movement to say that the future is digital and that we need the right policies to support it.
That's why I brought together this Startup Europe Leaders Club. And that's why I asked them to give me their recipe for startup success. Because I know there are few as well placed to do this as they are. As passionate about the impact that internet innovation can have. And as knowledgeable about the environment needed for success. These are the guys who've been out there, fought the battles and won.
Many of their recommendations - like on data protection, or open public data – are things the EU can itself take forward; in some cases we already have done. Other recommendations are not for the EU: they are for governments, local authorities, educators, public buyers, large companies, stock markets, and more. But they are all important. I hope many of those others will be looking at them closely. I know I will.
But this isn't the end of a process: it's the beginning. This isn't something you've handed over and can now leave with the politicians: you all have a duty to promote and promulgate it, to nurture and help the next generation of talent, ensure they have the best possible environment.
Sometimes you may think of each other as competitors, but in this project you are compatriots: you are creating an ecosystem together. This is a sector, the startup sector, that needs to mobilise and have its voice heard. And you can use all your creativity and imagination to do that. We're in a world where an online campaign about an unknown issue is watched by 50 million in 3 days. Where an irritatingly catchy tune - in a language incomprehensible to most - hits number 1 thanks to a YouTube sensation.
This Manifesto contains a powerful message. It's time this message, too, went viral.
I hope I can count on your help. Thank you.